Setting up Synergy+ with Windows and Mac

Dave Seah mentioned that he uses Synergy+ to share a keyboard and mouse between his multiple computers so I thought I’d give it a try. It took me a few hours over a few days before I got it working. Here’s roughly how my process went:

  • Downloaded Synergy+ for Windows and installed on PC. Did the same for my Mac.
  • Installed qsynergy for Mac – it provides a visual interface for configuring Synergy+. Otherwise you have to set up a text configuration file and run command prompts, which intimidates me.
  • Used qsynergy to set up my Macbook Pro as the server and added a screen for my PC.
  • Opened Synergy+ on the PC and put in my Macbook Pro name as the server; the PC would be a “client” and use the Mac’s keyboard and mouse.
  • Clicked the “test” button and kept getting “can’t connect” errors – it wasn’t finding the Mac.
  • Tried putting in IP addresses instead, but still didn’t work.
  • Eventually this worked to resolve the connection problems: Changed PC name to all uppercase in qsynergy on the Mac (I had it lowercase before), and used Mac’s IP address in Synergy+ on the PC. When I dragged the mouse off the edge of the Mac screen, I could see it flickering on the PC screen.
  • Unfortunately, though, it still wasn’t really working properly; the mouse would flicker and move on the very left of the PC screen but not actually do anything or move around the screen.
  • I had the bright idea that maybe the Wacom tablet mouse was the problem. I plugged in my travel USB mouse into the Mac. It worked perfectly! The mouse moved smoothly between the Mac and PC screens.
  • But the keyboard wouldn’t work at all (I have an Apple keyboard plugged into the Mac).
  • Did some Googling. One person said qsynergy didn’t work for them, but SynergyKM did. I uninstalled qsynergy from the Mac and installed SynergyKM.
  • After a few rough starts, I figured out that to set up the configuration screen, I had to drop the “.local” from my MacBook name (e.g., corrie-macbook instead of corrie-macbook.local). Worked perfectly with the USB mouse and keyboard. Still didn’t work with Wacom tablet mouse. But I did a little happy dance nonetheless when I was able to move the cursor from my Mac screen to my PC screen and type something on the PC!
  • I found a post at Stefan Didak’s blog (of crazy computer/monitor setup fame) about how his Wacom wasn’t playing nice with Synergy (or vice versa?) and he switched to Input Director. Unfortunately for me, Input Director only works with PCs, not with Macs as well. But I did feel validated because in the comments another person was experiencing the same problems with PC/Mac/Synergy/Wacom. So it’s not just me.

So now I’m left with what to do. I love being able to share a keyboard and mouse, but I also love my Wacom (and I just sprung $60 for a replacement mouse when my scroll wheel failed on the original one). Maybe I’ll get a wireless (Bluetooth?) mouse for general use and keep the Wacom on my desk for when I need to use the pressure-sensitive pen. I’ll update this post when I finally make a decision… but knowing me, don’t expect anything really soon!

UPDATED: 7/13/2010

I ordered a Logitech Bluetooth mouse and got it installed and set up with my Mac – and indeed, it works with Synergy so that I can now go from screen to screen between my Mac and PC! It’s pretty smooth – there have been a few times where the mouse gets a little jumpy, but overall it seems to work well. The great thing is that it works on top of my Wacom tablet just fine (my cheap travel USB mouse didn’t like the reflective surface), so I don’t have to rearrange anything.

Because the Bluetooth mouse runs on batteries, I’m keeping it “off” most of the time except for when I actually need to use both computers, which hasn’t been very often. So the rest of the time, I continue to use my Wacom mouse and pen as usual.

So, I’m fully Synergy-zed and pretty happy about it.

3 thoughts on “Setting up Synergy+ with Windows and Mac

  1. Yay! Persistence pays off. Me Likes! I think I might try Synergy+ for my two PC laptops when I’m working. I HATE having to use a mouse for one (on the roll out keyboard tray) and then reach out and up for the touchpad on top of the (too high for comfort) computer desk top. 🙂
    Maybe I’ll post my results here in the comments once it’s up.

  2. Ok. So I didn’t end up trying Synergy+. Instead I went with InputDirector (as I don’t have a mac).. and 5 minutes later (really, only 5 minutes), it was up and running. And may I say… very cool!

    Thank you Corrie for sharing these tools!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s